WeFreeStrings: Love in the Form of Sacred Outrage (ESP-Disk’, 2022)

June 27, 2022 at 11:18 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

WeFreeStrings: Love in the Form of Sacred Outrage

Violist Melanie Dyer (Sun Ra Arkestra, William Parker, Tomeka Reid Stringtet) leads this string-based jazz ensemble, which has been active since 2011, and this is their second album. Three of the four pieces are written by Dyer, and they’re dedicated to civil rights activists. “Baraka Suite” is made up of six movements, and they flow together at an unhurried pace, but not in a lazy way. Michael Wimberly’s drumming stands out, and he does some intense solos, but the string playing is strong as well. “Love in the Form of Sacred Outrage [for Fannie Lou Hamer]” is the shortest and most immediately striking piece, with sharper, more angular movements and a greater sense of urgency. “Pretty Flowers” (by Baba Andrew “The Black” Lamb) is more graceful, with extended strokes, fluid pacing, and stunning interplay. Where the previous piece is frantic and alarmed, this one is more empathetic, and it feels like clearing one’s head after the shock of some terrible news. “Propagating the Same Type of Madness, that uh… [for Fred Hampton]” is richer and more dynamic, definitely tense but not full-on cathartic. The entire album is inspired, unique protest music which encompasses a wide spectrum of emotions.

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